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Too Smart for Their Own Britches

March 19, 2014

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: to know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity…Proverbs 1:1-3

There is a noticeable progression here. You can simply know the right thing to do. You can take it a step further and understand why it’s the right thing to do. Then you can adopt and implement the policy in your life. “Wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity” just about cover everything.

To give prudence to the naïve, to the youth knowledge and discretion, a wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles. Proverbs 1:4-6

Here’s another progression. You start out as a babe, naïve to that which is God’s way. As an adolescent, enough life application gives one nuance and discretion (Proverbs 2:11), but there is still vulnerability. As an adult, a reservoir of knowledge is tapped, which fills even further with every observation of its application in life, and its results. A wise man gathers more and more wisdom from his own experiences, and by observing the lessons learned by others. A wise man is capable of using this accumulation of laboratory-tested knowledge to solve some of life’s most complicated riddles. He’s the one who teaches the naïve. He’s the one to whom the young man goes for counsel. He’s the one most likely to spot a thinly disguised scheme of the devil. But know this; even the wise man can falter if he fails to do one of two things: fear God, or walk in humility (Proverbs 15:33).

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

Those who refuse to acquire wisdom do not fear the Lord. They scorn those who hesitate long enough to consider God’s precepts, and especially those who don’t rush headlong into the unknown, or worse, known sin. As my mom used to say about these kinds, they’re “too smart for their own britches.” A wise man restrains his feet from every evil way, that he may keep God’s word (Psalm 119:101).

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